'Her Face' by Maia Cornish
We lost Becky in the Tsunami, washed away to sea. Sometimes I think Joyce grieves more for Becky’s unborn baby than for our beautiful daughter.
Neighbours attempt sympathy.
“Wrong place at the wrong time,” they say.
But Joyce doesn’t see it like that.
“Why didn't you keep her and the baby safe, at home?” I see, etched in the angry lines on her face before she turns away from me.
She’s right. I was always too soft with Becky, let her do whatever she wanted, just to see her smile. Joyce used to smile at me like that. But not now, not since we lost Becky. All I see now is her angry pursed mouth and clouded eyes that refuse to meet mine.
I planted a
flowerbed, near the kitchen window, hoping to please her. But when she spotted the bees around the flowers in the evening sun she slammed the kitchen door. I didn’t need to see her face.
I tried again, with a vegetable patch. She didn’t say a word as she dumped the potatoes in the sink, but her angry back spoke volumes.
When I brought home the two fat hens, she didn’t even look up. I built them a run next to the fence beside the footpath.
Joyce says nothing when she boils the newly laid eggs each day for breakfast. But I watch her sometimes, poised mid-air as she hangs out her washing, and waits for the children. They stoop, fingers poked through the wire, making soft noises to the hens. And sometimes, like today, I see a gentle look in her eyes, and a light comes on, slowly, and spreads across her face.